Labrador Retriever Temperament & Personality
Labrador Retrievers are notorious for being amiable, smart, and most of all friendly. One can easily recognize their breed since they are primarily selected and trained to be human companions. They are always featured in magazines and news articles due to the geniality and popularity among dog owners.
Labs can be seen as a part of law enforcement for detection and screening, or a therapy dog that helps people with disabilities such as blindness and autism. Their loyalty, kindness, and obedience makes them the best candidate for these roles and also being the best buddy at home. Labs are considered the most versatile breed among dogs.
Labrador Retriever Characteristics
Labs are identified with having a medium well-built body that is perfect for their easygoing and sporty lifestyle. They are distinguished by their kind and knowing eyes; a thick muscular tail that can be called the “otter tail” due to its likeness to the actual thing; their right-sized muzzle that’s connected to a brawny jaw and a clean defined head; and lastly, their slick, short, and weatherproof undercoat that insulates them from the cold.
Labrador Retriever Size – Height and Weight (Male and Female)
Depending on the Labs’ gender, their sizes vary. Females are normally smaller and their height ranges from 21.5 to 23.5 inches, with their weight ranging from 55 to 70 pounds. Their counterparts, the male Labrador Retrievers stand 22.5 to 24.5 inches tall and weigh about 65 to 80 pounds.
Labrador Retriever Life Span – (Male and Female)
Labrador Retrievers are very fun to be with, and anyone will want to spend their whole life with the best companion like them. Their average lifespan is between 10-12 years.
Labrador Retriever Personality
Labs are known for being one of the friendliest dog breeds out there and we can’t stress it enough. They wag their tails to strangers, fellow dogs and are the most loving with kids. Labs make a great partner because of their affection and loyalty to their owners. They have become a popular and favorite breed.
That is why they are always featured in photos, commercials, and news where they stick with their owners no matter what. They have saved someone from an accident, or are just plainly eating dog food in a commercial, being a good boy – or girl. This dog breed is remarkably obedient and intelligent, making training easy.
You’ll find that Labrador Retrievers’ motto in life is to please their pet parents and have fun. They are playful and hyperactive. A bundle of energy that’s also great for cuddling.
Labrador Retriever Exercise
With their high level of energy, Labrador Retrievers need their exercise. The recommended activities for Labrador Retrievers are daily walking, running in the park, training, chewing on some pet toys, and fetching games – anything that helps them release their stored energy. Be careful though, they are known to be very enthusiastic about being active that they exhaust themselves if you do not intervene and stop the playtime.
Labrador Retrievers who lack activity may resort to undesirable behaviors like chewing some items in your house or digging a hole in your backyard just to release some of their pent up zest. So always remember to keep them busy and train them properly.
Labrador Retriever Training
Training is crucial and yet natural for this breed. They produce an exemplary outcome for Labrador Retrievers themselves and their owners. They are easy to train due to their unparalleled enthusiasm and intelligence. It’s recommended to start training during their puppy stage so that they’ll develop good manners and social skills early on.
Lab puppies are adaptable, and it’s the right time for the owner to get to know more about their dog and rectify any undesirable habits that they may take into adulthood. There are different types of training for a Labrador Retriever depending on the career they are going to take.
Labrador Retriever History
This dog breed, despite its name, Labrador, actually came from Newfoundland, which is an eastern province in Canada. They were initially called St. John’s Waterdog or Newfoundland dogs during the early 1800s. The Labradors were brought to Britain through ship trading because they were known to be great companions of fishermen.
Englishmen took notice because they recognized the skills of the breed as great retrievers, and used them for sports like hunting or water fowling. Labrador Retrievers have always been considered as an awesome helper or partner throughout history with their personality and traits. Their short weather-proof undercoat is perfect for outdoor activities and water sports.
Their dedication to their owners and trainability are highly praised even then. The Labs were almost extinct by the 1880s because of the new tax and government restrictions made in Canada for dog owners. They disappeared from their homeland, but thanks to the English fans of this breed and the Malmesbury family, they were protected and saved.
In 1903, the Kennel Club acknowledged the Labrador Retriever as an independent and specific breed. The AKC or American Kennel Club filed it’s first dog breed information in 1917. Years passed and the Labs from Britain were imported to the US and are now among the most favorite breeds in America.
Labrador Retriever Health Problems
The energetic and easy-going lifestyle of a Labrador Retriever makes them healthy in general, but like other breeds, they can still have some health issues that most pet owners should look out for. It doesn’t immediately mean that your Labrador Retriever will acquire these illnesses or diseases, but it’s good to be informed about them.
Most of their common health problems involve musculoskeletal and eye-related issues. This doesn’t discount the other possible health problems that the Labrador Retriever may acquire. Here are the common diseases and illnesses with Labs:
- (OCD) Osteochondritis Dissecans – OCD is a condition that causes painful rigidity to the elbows and sometimes in the shoulders. It can worsen and make the dog’s elbow immobile. Excess feeding of high protein foods or treats that encourage faster growth is considered to be one of the causes of this disease.
- Hip Dysplasia – A genetic condition where the hip and thigh bone don’t fit correctly. It can be dislocated partially or completely. Some Labs may show symptoms like an irregular way of walking and also signs of pain. Others may not show any symptoms at all.
Hip Dysplasia can be diagnosed by having your Labrador Retriever go through Hip Evaluation and X-ray Screening. Labs with this condition are best not to breed to avoid passing on the DNA.
- Elbow Dysplasia – Similar to Hip Dysplasia, this disease is hereditary and it usually occurs to larger dogs. This causes supple limbs that are painful and uncomfortable for your canine. Elbow Dysplasia happens because of the abnormal growth development of the dog’s elbow. Vets would suggest getting surgery or prescribe a pain reliever medicine.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy – Also called PRA, this is an eye condition that causes the Labrador Retriever’s retina to slowly deteriorate. Early cases result in an inability to see with dim lights, and then progress to a full loss of vision even in the day time.
There’s currently no cure for this degenerative disease, but most dogs can adapt well as long as they stay in a familiar place.
- Cataracts – This vision-obscuring disease is similar to a human’s cataract. It whitens the lens of the eyes, and blocks the light from coming into the retina. It grows gradually and can affect dogs of any age.
Treatment available for dogs that have Cataracts involves removal surgery, which normally has a high success rate.
- Myopathy – This disease is due to the muscle tissues or fibers not functioning properly. This makes your canine friends really weak, causing rigid movements and muscle tremors. This may be acquired from birth or due to injury or a developmental issue. There is no cure for this and keeping your Labs warm and well-rested helps with lessening the symptoms. Since it gets worse over time, some owners are given the option to euthanize their pets and are advised not to breed.
- Ear Infections – Labrador Retrievers are prone to ear infection due to the way their ears are made and their lifestyle of loving the water. It’s caused by bacteria, allergies, ingrown hair in the ear canal, and mites. If your dog shows frequent head shaking or you notice a change in their ear odor, have them checked. Weekly cleaning is necessary to maintain good health for your pet.
- Cold Tail – When you see your dog trying to catch or bite their tail, they are either playing or they have a cold tail. This condition causes tail pain and becomes flaccid. It is common for Labrador Retrievers and is not alarming since it goes away on its own.
- Acute Moist Dermatitis – Dogs have their skin issues as well and Acute Moist Dermatitis, also known as “Hot Spots”, is caused by bacteria infecting the skin. This results in inflamed red spots on the skin surface. Treatment includes proper hygiene, hair trim, and antibiotics.
- Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV) – Also known as “Bloat,” the condition is caused by having gas filling the stomach and twisting on itself. This requires a surgical emergency because the gas in the stomach creates pressure in the blood flow, which makes it fatal for the dog. There is still no accurate information about what causes this illness but the chances of getting it gets higher as your dog ages.
- Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia (TVD) – This condition can be detected by ultrasound and is becoming prevalent to the Labrador Retriever breed. Pups get them as soon as they are born and some may survive it and others just perish. TVD is caused by having an abnormal shape of the tricuspid valve. There is no current treatment yet for this disease.
Phenobarbital and Potassium Bromide are common medications for pets. It is highly advisable to have your labs undergo a full-scale evaluation and EIC DNA test to detect diseases as early as possible. This will also help breeders to determine which dogs are okay to prepare for breeding.
How to Care For Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever is sociable, energetic, and loving. It is important for them to be around their human companions, and to have their playtime and exercise like running outside and playing fetch in the park. They love affection and attention from their owners. Leaving them alone for too long at home or in your backyard may result in an unhappy Lab.
Given their enthusiasm for activities and burning energy, they enjoy chewing anything for hours. Giving them a toy to chew for hours will keep them happy and content. Another thing to consider is to settle them in a kennel or a place of their own so they will not create a mess or destroy things in your house accidentally. Since they are overly joyful creatures. We don’t want missing remotes every week.
Nutrition and Feeding for Labrador Retriever
When caring for a Labrador Retriever or any pet in general, you must think about how, what, and how much to feed them. Over time, dogs grow and have their preferred food. It’s hard to say what the best food for your Labrador Retriever is since they have their own individual taste. It is best to feed your Labrador Retriever with foods that are high in protein and fat.
Feeding them high-quality food is the best option. It also depends on if you want them to eat commercial food or homemade meals. Knowing your dog is fundamental in learning how to feed them properly. Not all dogs are the same. The amount of food you need to feed your Labs depends on their age and size. But in general, they should be fed 2-3 cups of dry food spread out to 2 meals a day.
Keep watch on your dog’s diet since some dogs can easily become overweight. Treats are helpful in training and keeping your Labs happy, but anything excessive is always not a good idea.
Coat Color and Grooming
The Labrador Retriever has two-layer coats that are top and under. These 2 layers help them become more resilient to cold and water. Their coat is one of their best assets since they can easily go in and out of the water without ice crusting in their fur. You’ll find that most Labrador’s coat color is black, golden yellow, or chocolate brown.
Black coats of Labrador Retrievers were a favorite by breeders before but the demand for golden yellow and chocolate brown increased, which made them a staple color for Labs too. There are some fans that breed Labs with white and fox red coats, which can be considered rare. Grooming isn’t much of an issue with Labs as they are easy to bathe.
Regular nail trimming should be done. Long nails cause Labs to be uncomfortable with their feet. This also helps to avoid scratches and being hurt when your Labrador Retriever excitedly jumps on you. Brushing their teeth often to keep your canine friends clean and healthy is a must. It helps prevent any mouth issues like gum disease, the buildup of plaque and tartar, and tooth decay, which causes bad breath.
While brushing your dog’s teeth, it’s a good time to check if there are fractured teeth or any orthodontic problems. One thing to consider that is common with Labs is the excessive shedding of their coat. Having a vacuum for the area where your Lab mostly hangs out is a thing to consider to manage all the furs that fall out. Brushing their coats frequently helps with their loose hairs.
Remember, grooming is not just about making sure they are polished but it can also be a time for you to spend more time with your dog and check for potential health issues.
Children and Other Pets
The Labrador Retrievers’ friendliness is known to be a good trait of a family dog. They are easy-going, lovable, and have low aggression, which makes them okay with being touched, petted, and cuddled. Labs enjoy being with kids since they can match their energy and glee. They will happily play together for hours and are very affectionate towards children.
It is important to supervise them, no matter how kind and friendly your dog is. This is to avoid any biting or tail and ear pulling on either side. Training your dog on how to act towards children will help them have a better and safe interaction. The same goes for your kids, you need to teach them the do’s and don’ts when they’re playing or interacting with dogs. Reiterate to your kids not to bother any dog when they are sleeping or eating.
Labrador Retrievers are a sociable breed and with the right amount of training and exposure to humans and other animals, they’ll go along well with other pets.
Rescue Groups and Breed Organizations
It’s sad to even acknowledge that there are some owners that get themselves a Labrador Retriever and end up not being able to care and be responsible for them. This is why there are specific breed rescue groups that take in and look after these neglected Labs. Dogs that are rescued are put up for adoption and these groups ensure that they are given to families that will provide a new home where they will be loved and taken care of.
Breed organizations are founded to be the keeper and provider of information about Labrador Retrievers. They organize social gatherings for fans and set up activities or conventions for them. Breed clubs can also raise funds for research and development for Labrador Retrievers. They can also set the rules and regulations about the breeding of their particular breed.
If you want to check out any Labrador Retriever rescue list or participate in a Labrador Retriever breed organization, you can contact your local community in charge of Labs or the National breed club, the National Labrador Retriever Club Inc.
More About This Breed
- Bench shows in England require Labrador Retrievers to have a working certificate to become a champion in their contest.
- There is an anti-interbreeding law requested and set by the fans of the breed due to the excessive inbreeding done with Labs. It was fortunate that the Labrador genes were dominant and didn’t dissolve.
- Labrador Retrievers are great swimmers, thanks to their water-resistant coats that keep them insulated and their webbed toes for swiffer swimming. They were primarily the best pick for being a fisherman and hunter’s companion since they are good at retrieving fishes and hunted animals.
- Although they are named “Labrador”, Labrador Retrievers came from Newfoundland and were imported by the Earl of Malmesbury to England. It is said that the nobility in Britain normally refers to territories as a whole. Since Labrador is near Newfoundland, British people referred to it as one place. Another theory is that since they are seen swimming in the Labrador Sea, it often makes others think that they got their name from it.
- Labrador Retrievers are fast. With them being athletic and full of stamina, Labs can hit 20-30 mph at full speed.